Friday, February 24, 2012

Reading Through 2012-6

Completed This Week:

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work by Susan Cheever
If you managed to finish reading the subtitle I'm sure you have some idea of what Cheever's nonfiction multi-biography is all about. In truth, this has been on my TBR pile for a while but reading March inspired me to actually pick it up! I'm glad I did.
American Bloomsbury is a bit scattered, very superficial (it's only 200 pages, I know that's not a lot of room to get in-depth!), but very entertaining and interesting. Towards the end Cheever does insert herself into the story, which did turn me off a bit, since I'm sure you can fill 200 pages about these legendary writers and Transcendentalists without describing the author's "research" trips with her kids and dogs. Not that I wouldn't enjoy those stories, I just found that they didn't really fit into the overall telling of Cheever's story.
Cheever focuses quite a bit on Thoreau and his infatuation with Fuller, as well as Emerson's infatuation with her. Unfortunately Fuller's significance to history is never quite explored; but Emerson's, Alcott's, and Thoreau's certainly is. If you want a quick glimpse into a grouping of 19th century authors and their world, I would recommend it. You might also want to check out this quick review.

East by Edith Pattou
I do love fairy tale retellings, and this retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon (or Cupid and Psyche, or vaguely Beauty and the Beast plus tasks) is quite an enjoyable YA novel. Set in 16th century Norway, East takes the reader all throughout Northern Europe and even into France as young Rose sets off as a captive with a White Bear and then sets off to free him from a troll queen. I did find it difficult to imagine her family quite as literate as it was, but I enjoyed the cast enough to overlook it. Pattou definitely has a romantic style of writing, which makes even the most gruesome or harsh scenarios seem a bit "soft" but gives a far more emotional and poetic image to the book.
I haven't read many, but this is my favorite retelling of this tale. I do wish it had a little bit more...I don't know, pizzazz? It was a great and enjoyable retelling, but it doesn't quite capture the heart and imagination the way my other favorite retellings do (Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marrillier, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost).

Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Okay, let's just admit I enjoy this series.
In this fifth addition Dresden faces a duel with an ancient vampire, hunting down the lost Shroud of Turin, and a band of thirty bad-ass fallen angels. And dodging the cops. And the return of his half-vampire girlfriend who "wants to talk." I really wonder about all the stress Dresden is under, but obviously his coping skills aren't the best...since he just seems to spiral into further trouble with less sleep and self-care!
While these books do feel somewhat episodic I kind of hope that there is an overarching storyline that I will pick up on sooner or later, that ties them all together. I also think Murphy didn't get enough "screen time" in this novel of the Dresden Files. I do love Murphy.

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
Another foray into The Dresden Files this week! This one follows an entropy curse surrounding an up and coming progressive porn film director and his well as guardian puppies from Tibet and some secret family history for Dresden that is dramatically revealed to him by White Court vampires! Exciting.

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